I am new to the forum and need some help. I have a 1 year old male Bichon Frise and a 10 year old female cockapoo. The two of the are almost inseparable to the point where the Bichon (Toby) is picking up bad habits from the cockapoo (Tootsie). First of all there is a black Labrador next door to us that is old and would not hurt anyone and does not bother anyone that when I let our dogs outside the both of them bolt to the fence and start barking at him like crazy until I go over and pull them away from the fence. Even when they are on their leach they will bark and pull and not do their business. My next problem is the fact that Toby is a jumper and loves to jump on people, which needs to be corrected. If I put him in his pen or cage for a short period of time he will bark constantly until I let him out. He will not listen to me or my wife and is just getting out of control. I take him and Tootsie for walks in the morning but he wants to keep pulling and not walking correctly. I did take him to PetSmart to be trained and he acts completely different while he is there and will listen to the trainer but as soon as he gets home he is back at it again. I do not like the fact that they "treat train" dogs so I did not take him back. I do not want him to get over-weight like Tootsie is.
The both of them beg at the table when my wife and I try to eat and if I keep them in their pen they will bark so I do not know if it is better just to let them out or have them bark during lunch or dinner.
All-in-all I am almost at my wits end trying to get them to listen to me. What can I do to train them. I have the patience and could train them if I knew what I was doing. If taking them to a trainer is the answer then that is the course I will take. He is not a monster all the time, he just needs some guidance.
I looked at the Don Sullivan system and I heard that was not the way to go so if anyone has any suggestions please feel free to pass them on. I am sure both my wife and I would love to hear from you.
I would definitely encourage you to look into private trainers in your area. APDT.org is an excellent resource - you can get trainer referrals and find out about the latest developments in behavior modification and theories of learning in animals. A private trainer can work with you and your wife, one-on-one, to set up a program that will work for you, your lifestyle, and the needs of your dogs. Of course, as in all professions, the spectrum of trainers is broad so you will need to ask some questions in order to find the right person for your family. Look for a trainer who uses positive methods, not coercion or aversive techniques (pinning, choking, pinching, etc).
Since positive methods rely on using something your dog likes to reinforce behaviors you want (such as rewarding your dog for sitting rather than jumping), yes, treats will probably be used (unless, like some dogs, your dogs are more motivated by something else, such as a particular toy, than by food). However, you can and should discuss your dogs' dietary needs with both your trainer and your veterinarian. They will help you balance the dogs' regular meals with the extra treats, and help you select healthy, natural treats with no added sugars, so that the dogs will not gain weight. Assuming your dogs are getting regular exercise and do not otherwise have any medical conditions affecting their digestion or metabolism, they will be fine. I guarantee this works - my dog was 10lbs overweight when I got him; I have used only positive training methods to train him so in addition to daily walks, dietary supplements and a high-protein, low-carb, diet kibble, he receives chicken, cheese, bacon, carrots, apples and peanut butter. In under a year he has gone from being dog-fearful and reactive to receiving his AKC Canine Good Citizen certification and playing happily at the dog park and daycare facility, and has also lost 12 pounds.
You will not need to give your dogs all these "extras" forever. As they progress in their training, you will slowly wean them off of food rewards, again, with the guidance of your trainer.
Meanwhile, for an introduction to the theories of positive training methods as well as some wonderful demonstrations of various basic behaviors (including loose-leash walking), check out Paul Owens' and/or Ian Dubar's excellent DVDs. Paul's book "The Original Dog Whisperer" is also great, particularly for explaining the theory and philosophy behind his methods, but personally I am a visual learner so I found the demonstrations in his videos more practically useful. Although not a training manual, per se, Patricia McConnell has a lovely book out called "The Other End of the Leash" which is really a must-read for everyone trying to understand why their dogs do what they do. Dr. McConnell also publishes fantastic pamphlets on all sorts of different behaviors and how to modify them.
Hope this gives you some places to start - good luck and happy training!
I saw an infomercial on TV about a dog training system by Don Sullivan which states you can train your dog in minutes. Have you heard about this system and if so does it actually work? I looked into getting Toby trained about 6 months ago from a trainer here in Columbia, SC and the price they wanted was out of my budget so I took him over to PetSmart where he was learning but as soon as he got home and was with his "sister" Tootsie he forgot all about his training and went back to where he was. Even though Tootsie is 10 years old I feel that if I do not have both Tootsie and Toby trained at the same time they will not learn to behave and be the kind of well-behaved dogs we would like.
If you think the best way to go is to get a personal trainer then I will look into it again.
I'm afraid I'm not personally familiar with the product that Don Sullivan is advertising and, without actually watching the DVDs, I wouldn't be able to offer a truly informed opinion. However, based on a google inquiry, there are several elements of his product that raise red flags to me and, based on my personal philosophy of training, I wouldn't be able to recommend it to any of my clients. That's not to say Don's system doesn't work, because correction-based training DOES work (if it didn't, it wouldn't still be around and so widely used), just that I disagree with his methods and would use different techniques, myself.
You are absolutely correct in thinking that you must work with both of your dogs consistently. Patricia McConnell has a very nice and inexpensive pamphlet on some tips for multiple-dog households that you may find informative.